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Sea Fishing Loch Fyne at Cairndow, Argyll, Scotland

Updated on August 07, 2014

Cairndow is a Small Village Near the Head of Loch Fyne, Scotland

Looking down Loch Fyne towards Inveraray from the beach near Cairndow, on the south shore of Loch Fyne
Looking down Loch Fyne towards Inveraray from the beach near Cairndow, on the south shore of Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne is the longest of Scotland's sea lochs, stretching about forty miles inland from the Firth of Clyde. This means that there is a lot of shoreline from which it is possible for anglers to go beach casting and a lot of water for the modern day trawlers to pillage. Sadly, the latter activity has decimated the fish stocks in Loch Fyne and these once rich waters are not even a shadow of what they once were in terms of fish stocks and marine life. This is not to say that a good day's fishing is not still possible on Loch Fyne - unfortunately, the occasion that pre-empted this site was not one of them...

Cairndow is a small village almost at the head of the loch. It is less than a mile from where you will find the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, a venture which now knows outlets throughout the United Kingdom. This particular part of Loch Fyne was suggested to us as offering mackerel in abundance, as well as sport from dogfish and thornback rays.

The Loch Fyne Oyster Bar seen in the distance from the beach by Cairndow War Memorial
The Loch Fyne Oyster Bar seen in the distance from the beach by Cairndow War Memorial

How to Get to Cairndow, Argyll

A markerCairndow, Argyll -
Cairndow, Argyll PA26 8, UK
get directions

The cut off for Cairndow from the main A83 Campbeltown road represents a very sharp turn and one which you will only see a few seconds before you reach it. When you have crossed the Rest and Be Thankful and a few miles on you are heading downhill with Loch Fyne appearing in the distance, know that the cut off to the left is immediately at the bottom of the hill as you return to sea level.

Parking at Cairndow War Memorial leaves you only a few yards from the beach but the track is pretty treacherous
Parking at Cairndow War Memorial leaves you only a few yards from the beach but the track is pretty treacherous

The Cairndow War Memorial is located almost right on the A83 and as soon as you leave the main road you will see a small lay-by with parking for a couple of cars only. If possible, park in this lay-by but you may of course have to go a few hundred yards further on and park in the village proper. The shore of the loch from this spot is reached by climbing down the embankment. This is only a few yards (the car is parked by the telephone pole in the photo to the right) but the angle of descent is steep, the ground is very unstable and great care is required. Any angler with mobility problems of any type will not be able to access the shore from this point and will need to do so from the village.

The water close to shore is very shallow at higher stages of the tide
The water close to shore is very shallow at higher stages of the tide
The weed along the shoreline is another reason to avoid fishing the higher stages of the tide
The weed along the shoreline is another reason to avoid fishing the higher stages of the tide

Cairndow is Ideally a Low Tide Fishing Venue

The shallow water at higher stages of the tide at Cairndow and the weed which covers the shoreline are both good reasons to fish Cairndow at lower stages of the tide. Deeper water can be reached fairly easily a couple of hours either side of low tide, even when you are not a particularly accomplished caster. Spinning is also possible at low tide when it would not be at all practical at high water.

Low water on the day of this visit (Monday, 22nd August, 2011) was approximately 12.30pm. We arrived at the venue just after 10am and fished until 4pm. The advice we had been given was that mackerel were most likely to be caught in the hour before low tide with dogfish likely at the low water mark and just beyond. The bait we had on this occasion consisted of mackerel, calamari and blueys.

Tackle and Rigs

Beachcaster rods are of course essential at a venue like Cairndow, other than at low tide when spinning may well catch mackerel and in so doing offer good sport on the much lighter tackle. Three of us fishing Cairndow on this occasion had between us four beachcasters and a spinning rod.

A mixture of bought lures and home tied rigs were tried with only minor levels of success at Cairndow War Memorial
A mixture of bought lures and home tied rigs were tried with only minor levels of success at Cairndow War Memorial

The five or six hours saw a great deal of experimentation with end tackle. Premade lures such as Hokais, plain Aberdeen hooks on wishbone rigs, bait clips and more were tried in a series of attempts to find the fish. Unfortunately, the sum total for the day was one decent mackerel, one undersized mackerel and a dogfish. The mackerel were taken on hokai style lures (on a beachcaster - spinning proved fruitless) and the dogfish on a plain Aberdeen hook baited with a small cocktail of mackerel and calamari squid.

This modest dogfish represented Catch of the Day at Cairndow on this occasion
This modest dogfish represented Catch of the Day at Cairndow on this occasion

The Scenery at Cairndow is Always Beautiful, Even if the Fishing is Poor

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Cairndow village is unseen just beyond the treesLooking north, across Loch Fyne, from CairndowLooking north-west across Loch Fyne from CairndowLooking east from Cairndow at the Head of Loch Fyne and in to Glen Fyne
Cairndow village is unseen just beyond the trees
Cairndow village is unseen just beyond the trees
Looking north, across Loch Fyne, from Cairndow
Looking north, across Loch Fyne, from Cairndow
Looking north-west across Loch Fyne from Cairndow
Looking north-west across Loch Fyne from Cairndow
Looking east from Cairndow at the Head of Loch Fyne and in to Glen Fyne
Looking east from Cairndow at the Head of Loch Fyne and in to Glen Fyne

Have you ever Fished Loch Fyne at Cairndow?

Hopefully, this page will have proven of some use to you with regard to fishing this part of Loch Fyne. If you are familiar with the area and have fished it perhaps with better results, why not share your experiences below with other interested readers?

Regardless, thank you for your visit to this page and good luck with your fishing.

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    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Looks like a lovely place; so beautiful, so unspoiled. I'd go there just to look at the scenery, not being much of a fisherwoman.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      It is a very beautiful part of the world, Paradise7 - and not just for fishermen. The scenery in the surrounding area is spectacular. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Lovely photos, I'm with Paradise7, wouldn't have a clue how to catch fish, I'd just sit and look at the scenery. It's a couple of train journeys away for me...I might visit next year sometime.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Jools99. Thanks for the visit and comment.

      I'm afraid that unfortunately you wouldn't get to this part of the world by train. The railways on the Argyll peninsula are long gone. If travelling via public transport, your best bet would be to get a train from the south to Glasgow Central and then transfer to Glasgow Buchanan Street Bus Station to catch the Campbeltown bus. The journey along Loch Lomondside and over the Rest is stunning and little towns like Inveraray really have to be seen to be believed.

      I hope you get to make the trip! :)

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Gordon, I was up in your neck of the woods just a few years ago. I didn't fish but really admired the beauty of the lochs (and got bitten by a lot of mosquitoes as I remember lol). It's quite an exquisite part of the world.

      All the best,

      Cloverleaf.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Cloverleaf. Glad you liked the area - that would be the midges that bit you! :)

      Thanks for the visit and comment. I hope you get to visit again some day.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 5 years ago from Scotland

      Looks like a beautiful spot for me to try some fishing in the near future Gordon, my boys would love it there too.

      thanks for sharing.....jimmy

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Jimmy

      Thanks for reading and for the comment. Yes, I would encourage you to give it a go but definitely check the tides and go for a couple of hours each side of low water. The weed is really bad close in but disappears further out.

      Good luck and I hope to read a Hub on your experience! :)

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